Gift Guide: Road Trip Lovers
I’m never happier than when I’m planning or taking a road trip. International travel has its advantages, but the US is so big and diverse that I love nothing more than hitting the road and seeing strange and unusual corners of the country. In my daily life, I love not having to drive or maneuver a car into tight spaces, but I love the freedom of driving on road trips. So grab an atlas and put on a ‘90s playlist while you browse this gift guide for road trip lovers.
1 / Sometimes I forget I own an instant film camera, but when I do remember to bring it on road trips I’m always grateful to have physical photographs to look through when I get back.
2 / Learn from my mistake and don’t wait until the last minute to buy your film. It’s reasonably priced on Amazon, but almost double the price if you buy it the day before you leave at Urban Outfitters.
3 / This has been my go-to camera case for years—it’s sturdy, padded and might get you some strange looks (something I’m very used to).
4 / I upgraded my camera body this year to a full-frame and I love it so much (perfect for getting those big roadside attractions in the frame).
5 / I sold off all my other lenses after I realized I was only using this 35 mm, and I’ve never regretted it.
6 / There’s a reason these backpacks are so popular—they’re lightweight, comfortable, durable and are surprisingly roomy. I have the black/red version (thanks, Jim!) but I saw someone with this striped version recently and wondered if I could possibly justify buying a second.
7 / Never underestimate the value of extra memory cards. I prefer the 32gb size because I find that I fill up 16gb cards too quickly. Luckily, these are available at most drug stores around the country if you forget to bring multiples.
8 / This isn’t the most sturdy tripod on the market, but it is incredibly light, compact and fits in a backpack. I actually broke the first one I owned when it fell out of the case (my fault), left it in an abandoned building and immediately bought a replacement.
1 / Most rental cars will have built in USB ports, but bring a car charger just incase (with two ports so your passenger can use it too).
2 / I have this book and tragically forgot to bring it with me on my most recent Route 66 road trip. I won’t be making that mistake on the next one, but it’s fun to flip through even when you’re not using it to navigate on the Mother Road.
3 / I bought the wired version of these noise-cancelling headphones for my Egypt trip, and I wouldn’t have survived my snoring Uncle without them. They’re great for plane rides, noisy hotel neighbors, or for zoning out in the passenger seat.
4 / I don’t need a huge wallet when I go on trips (I leave all of my store/club cards at home), so this card case is perfect for just the essentials.
5 / After what seemed like a lifelong search for a waterbottle that doesn’t leak, I’ve been happy with this Camelbak version. I can throw it in my backpack with my camera and not worry about a catastrophe.
6 / No commercials and the ability to download epic road trip playlists to your phone are reason enough to buy a monthly Spotify subscription (a 3-month subscription is only 99 cents a month until December 31st).
7 / The perfect road trip food.
1 / I bought this Route 66 towel from the Standin’ on the Corner shop in Winslow, AZ, but luckily it’s available online, along with a lot of other great road trip-themed designs (free shipping for Christmas orders).
2 / I’ve been collecting squished pennies since I was a kid, and while the machines are getting harder to find, I still come home from my road trips with a few new ones to add to my collection. I’ve filled several of these souvenir penny books over the years and I think I actually need a new one, if anyone is looking for a last-minute gift for me.
3 / A friend once brought this toilet spray on a road trip with us and ever since I’ve realized what a great (and considerate) idea it is to have this on hand when you’re sharing a tiny hotel bathroom with someone.
4 / Stamps might not seem like a sexy gift, but I’m notorious for not having stamps with me on trips when I’d like to send postcards. A roll of Forever stamps would be handy, but there are always several fun designs available like dragons, Disney Villains or The Art of Magic. Side note: when did stamps become 50 cents??
5 / I can’t stop singing the praises of these waterproof high tops from Keds. They feel like a sneaker but keep your feet dry without the bulkiness (or sweatiness) of traditional rain boots. Most of my road trip stops are outside, and these shoes are great to pack for all weather conditions.
6 / A bunch of my favorite roadside attraction photos are currently available as prints in my Society 6 shop, but if there’s ever a specific photo you’d like me to upload just let me know! Also, Society 6 is literally always having a sale so you can usually get things a bit cheaper than the list price if you’re patient.
7 / I have this album for my Instax prints and it’s great to have them stored safely and in one place. These albums are cheap, come in various colors and I love the bizarre phrase “Pieces of Moment” and random numbers on the front.
The perfect gift for a road trip lover might just be to plan a road trip with them! I always have several road trip ideas floating around in my head at any one time and I’m always looking for people to actually just take them with me. The older I get, the more I value experiences over things, and my most cherished memories are of trips taken with good friends. So if you have a friend that loves the road as much as I do, gift them a few essentials and then promise to help them use their gifts and make some memories out on the open road.